Union Minister Anurag Thakur has been served a show-cause notice by the Election Commission, seeking his response for urging a crowd at an election rally in Delhi to say "goli maaro" - or shoot down traitors - in a widely-shared video. The poll body said prima facie the remarks had the "potential of disturbing communal harmony and aggravating the existing differences between social and religious communities."
The Election Commission said the BJP MP had violated the election code and electoral law and asked him to reply by noon on Thursday, "failing which the commission shall take a decision without any reference to you".
In the show-cause notice, the Election Commission referred to section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, dealing with attempts to promote enmity or hatred between different classes of citizens on the grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language. It also said Anurag Thakur made "certain other objectionable statements" at the meeting.
The Union Minister of State for Finance, who was campaigning for the BJP candidate in Rithala in North West Delhi for the February 8 Delhi election, can be seen prompting "desh ke gaddaron ko...", to which the crowd responds "...goli maaro sa***n ko"; the entire chant translates to "shoot down the traitors who betray the country". The video was taken at a rally on Monday.
Mr Thakur never actually says the controversial part of the slogan, but clearly eggs on the crowd and claps his hands as he gets the response he wants.
Asked who he believed were the "traitors" who need to be shot down, a defiant Mr Thakur told reporters: "First you should watch the entire video... Then you should see the mood of the people of Delhi."
The Election Commission has also asked for a response by BJP MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma who had announced that protesters on a sit-in against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at Delhi's Shaheen Bagh will be cleared in an hour if the BJP comes to power in Delhi, lacing his comments with a sensational accusation: "They will enter your houses, rape your sisters and daughters".
"This is not just another election. It is an election to decide the unity of a nation. If the BJP comes to power on February 11, you will not find a single protester within an hour. And within a month, we will not spare a single mosque built on government land," Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma said.
For more than a month, over 200 women have been joined by hundreds of others every day at South East Delhi's Shaheen Bagh at a sit-in protest against the CAA which promises citizenship to only non-Muslim refugees from three neighbouring countries.
Facing unrelenting anger against the CAA, the BJP has decided to make the most of the difficult situation and hinge its Delhi election campaign on the Shaheen Bagh protest, sources said on Monday. Sources say top BJP leaders feel the party can succeed in isolating AAP and also cutting down Congress with a new "Shaheen Bagh" blitz.
The Delhi election results will be declared on February 11, three days after people vote for the 70-member assembly.